Who doesn't love Mexican?! So many flavours – the bold use of spices and smokey chipotle chilli with creamy Mexican crema and a refreshing lightness from fresh herbs, vegetables and tangy citrus makes it a favourite in our home... and the perfect party food.
I normally like to just make a Mexican appetiser when we have bbqs at our place, usually guacamole or pico de gallo with tortilla chips. But two weekends ago, we went away camping at a local farm where I found a bush lemon tree and came home with a big bag of 50 lemons (yum!). So, naturally, I figured we should make margaritas to celebrate our new home with our friends at our housewarming party on Saturday. If we were going to have margaritas we might as well go the whole hog and enjoy a Mexican feast!
We devoured guacamole, pico de gallo, Mexican chilli with all the sides and crema de coco with little cinnamon pastries, by a blazing bonfire on a balmy Queensland winter's night in the backyard!
I've never made a Mexican dessert before. Perhaps the most obvious dessert recipe to go with is churros... but I'm not heaps keen on the deep-frying thing. So as I made plans for a Mexican housewarming dinner, I went straight to Pati Jinich's website (patijinich.com, Pati's Mexican Table) – who could be better trusted with an authentic Mexican dessert than the lovely Pati...born and raised in Mexico! So, I found her recipe for Crema de Coco, a deliciously creamy coconut custard. For those of you who know me well, you know that when presented with many options, if one of those options is coconut, the answer is, and always will be, "coconut". I L O V E C O C O N U T .
The little pots of coconut delight were a hit – not one spoonful left behind. The original recipe used condensed milk...which was delicious, although very sweet. So, I've adjusted the recipe slightly so that it is a little more guilt-free... dairy-free and refined sugar free.
I served the little pots of Crema de Coco with Campechanas, little sweet flaky pastry squares. Again, I have adjusted the recipe for these slightly too. I used to live in Sydney, where one of my favourite places to eat was Chica Bonita, in Manly, a little hole in the wall, taco shop, margarita bar (and yes, they served coconut margaritas!). If you've never been there before, you must go! They serve amazing Cajeta Chimichangas. They are a sweet dessert chimichanga, filled with dulce de leche, deep-fried and doused in cinnamon sugar and lime zest... S O. G O O D. So I've added lime zest and cinnamon sugar to my Campechanas... and don't think I forgot all about that dulce de leche! I've added a dairy-free, refined sugar-free caramel to the Crema de Coco. The Crema de Coco and Campechanas eaten together are a culinary paradise of coconut, caramel, cinnamon and lime!
CREMA DE COCO
Originally using condensed milk and cow's milk, I've substituted some maple syrup and almond milk, and added a caramel sauce.
Makes 6-8 serves
1/3 cup shaved dried coconut
2 x 400ml tins coconut milk
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 cup almond milk (if you don't like almond milk, you can substitute cow's milk)
1/2 cup cornflour
zest of 1 lime
For caramel sauce:
1 cup coconut cream
1 cup coconut sugar
STEP 1 //
Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius (140 degrees fan-forced). Place shaved coconut onto a small baking tray and bake in the oven for about 4-5 minutes, or until the coconut barely begins to toast (don't let them brown entirely). Set aside.
STEP 2 //
To make the caramel sauce, place the coconut cream and coconut sugar into a medium saucepan. Heat slowly on a low heat to dissolve the sugar, then bring to the boil over medium to high heat (keep an eye on it!). Then reduce heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and place a couple of tablespoons of caramel sauce into each ramekin.
STEP 3 //
Pour the coconut milk and maple syrup into a medium saucepan.
STEP 4 //
In a small bowl, mix the cornflour and almond milk and stir until completely dissolved. Pour it into the saucepan with the coconut milk and maple syrup.
STEP 5 //
Place the saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring continuously, until the mixture begins to simmer and thicken, about 8-10 minutes, until it coats the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from heat. Spoon custard into ramekins on top of the caramel.
STEP 6 //
Sprinkle with toasted coconut and lime zest and serve warm with Campechanas.
Traditionally these are baked with sugar rolled into the top of the pastry sheet, which caramelises in the oven. Instead, I've added cinnamon sugar and lime zest after baking to make them a little easier to bake and add a little more flavour to these delicious flakey pastries (which probably means that technically they're no longer campechanas...but they taste great anyway!) You could roll the cinnamon sugar into the pastry before baking so that it caramelises in the oven, just be sure to keep an eye on it so that the sugar doesn't burn.
Makes 24 pieces
2 sheets ready-rolled frozen puff pastry (about 300g)
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
4 tsp cinnamon sugar
zest of 2 limes
STEP 1 //
Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius (180 degrees Celsius fan-forced). Thaw pastry for about 20-30 minutes. Once your pastry has thawed cut each sheet in half and then cut each half into 6 strips width-ways, so that you have 24 little pastry rectangles. You can leave them as is, or I like to twist them in the middle to add interest.
STEP 2 //
Brush a small amount of the coconut oil (set the remainder aside to use later) onto a baking sheet and place the pastry pieces onto the baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown.
STEP 3 //
Remove from the oven and while still warm brush with the remaining coconut oil and sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar and lime zest.
STEP 4 //
Serve warm with the Crema de Coco.